Senate passes plan to find, treat, remove GenX in Cape Fear River


RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — The Senate passed legislation Wednesday that allows local officials to being improving water quality in the Cape fear River while helping ensure the state DEQ enforces the law against the company that dumped GenX into the water supply.

The plan, developed by Wilmington-area legislators, takes steps to immediately and directly address the problem of GenX contamination in the lower Cape Fear region.

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The plan includes:

  • Directing $250,000 to UNCW to quantify the amount of GenX in the Cape Fear River and determine the impact it could have on public health and safety.
  • Providing $185,000 to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and other local public utilities to develop treatment technologies to remove GenX from public water supplies and to make sure that treatment is working through ongoing monitoring.
  • Beginning the development of an electronic filing system to speed up the water quality permitting process along with an online, searchable database where officials and the public can easily find information on permits that have already been granted.

It also directs the Department of Environmental Quality to explain why it has not issued a ‘notice of violations’ (NOV) to the company responsible for the discharge of GenX if the department still has not done so by the end of next week.

Although the first news reports of the GenX discharge circulated in early June, close to three months later the department still has not issued an NOV informing the company that it is suspected of violating state law.

An NOV is typically the first step to holding violators accountable and potentially requiring them to bear the cost of remediation that is needed as a result of their illegal actions. Since early August, lawmakers have twice asked the DEQ secretary why his agency has not yet issued an NOV, but they have not received a direct response, according to a news release from Sen. Phil Berger’s office.

“This plan is an important first step, it gives local authorities who’ve been on the ground dealing with this issue since day one the immediate tools to begin addressing GenX contamination,” said Senators Michael Lee and Bill Rabon. “We expect the General Assembly will continue exercising its oversight responsibilities in the coming weeks to better understand what happened and to determine appropriate strategies to identify and address concerns going forward.”

Last week lawmakers met in Wilmington to begin investigating the GenX discharge, which they expected to be the first of multiple meetings.

Chemours released a statement to WWAY Thursday afternoon:

“Chemours was made aware of these sampling results on Tuesday, Aug. 29. In response, we are now investigating the potential that these two substances are byproducts of the IXM production unit at Chemours Fayetteville manufacturing site. We are working with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to understand their data and gain additional clarity regarding these samples. As we gather this additional information, we are also working to determine the appropriate next steps.”